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Episode 73: Zuill Bailey, Serenading Alaska

By KTVA Alaska 8:46 AM September 19, 2016

Zuill Bailey and his cello, which he describes as his soulmate, have serenaded Alaska off and on over the last 10 years.

Now, he says, the state has begun to feel more like home — because he spends about four months a year here to promote classical music.

This week on Frontiers, we take time out to get to know a cellist, whose mission is to put Alaska on the map for classical music — through his work at the Sitka Summer Music Festival, a month-long series of concerts — and his ever-growing outreach across the state.

You’ll find Bailey performing for well-heeled, concert-goers in Anchorage, but also North Slope oil workers, inmates at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and school kids in remote communities.

As Bailey is known to say, “Music has no boundaries.”

Some of the highlights of this week’s program:

– A look at Bailey’s vision for the Sitka Summer Music Festival

– Behind-the-scenes with Bailey and concert pianist Navah Perlman as they prepare for a concert

– Interview with Bailley, in which he tells the story of his 323-year-old cello and how he came to possess it

About five years ago, Bailey took over the Sitka festival from Paul Rosenthal, the violinist who started it in 1972.

The vision then and now: to embrace Alaska’s beauty and freedom from convention and to explore creativity.

Rosenthal, who was developing a reputation as a virtuoso violinist, turned away from the limelight and moved to a cabin near Fairbanks, with his wife Linda, who later founded the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.

Rosenthal continued to tour and prove that one could draw creativity from life in Alaska, yet also continue to be a part of the national music scene.

Bailey hopes to refine Rosenthal’s vision of Alaska as a musical oasis, where the “best of the best” come to recharge find inspiration.

We hope you will find inspiration in this brief visit with Bailey on Frontiers. I must say it was an amazing experience to sit so close to a 323-year-old cello and feel its vibrations. My instincts tell me you can’t go wrong with a show that’s full of beautiful music, beautiful scenery and big ideas.

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